Event marketing includes more than simply placing some ads and creating a great ticket sales page. To sell enough tickets for your event to be a success, you need to get strategic with your marketing investments. Your first step is to define your goals and budget. With that information in hand, you can begin developing a timeline filled with marketing tactics that will drive ticket sales.
Depending on your budget, marketing knowledge, and experience, you might want to work with an event marketing agency. A good event marketing agency can help you with all aspects of your event promotion, so your time is freed up to focus on what you do best. Keep in mind, the cost of an event marketing agency can always be worked into the ticket price or offset with sponsor investments. Therefore, don’t assume getting the help you need is too expensive. There are ways to make it work for your budget.
Once you complete that step and know if you’re going to hire professionals to help you promote your event or if you’re going to handle event marketing on your own, you’re ready to create your marketing plan and start promoting! Here are 10 key steps you can take to market your event and boost ticket sales.
1. Write an Event Marketing Plan
Your event marketing plan is the roadmap you’ll follow to reach your goals for ticket sales, brand or cause awareness, community goodwill, or any other goal you set for your event. It should include 10 sections at a minimum:
- Product definition: Define your event by describing its features as well as the problems it solves or benefits it delivers to attendees.
- Market definition: Describe the marketplace where your event will live. This includes how your event is different from other events or activities prospective ticket buyers could choose.
- Competitor analysis: Identify other events that compete with yours as well as what you do better. Also, research the marketing investments those events make to increase ticket sales.
- Target audience definition: Identify demographic characteristics of your event’s target audience (e.g., age, marital status, gender, income level, etc.) as well has behavioral traits such as what radio stations they listen to, what websites they like, what TV shows they watch, and so on.
- Brand definition: Include information about your brand in this section of your event marketing plan. See #2 below for more details about event branding.
- Pricing strategy: What prices will you charge for tickets? Will you offer bulk discounts, tiered pricing, or early bird discounts? Define your pricing model in this part of your marketing plan.
- Sales strategy: How will you sell tickets? This process affects your marketing messages and investments, so be sure to get it down in writing.
- Marketing strategy: Determine how you’ll market your event and the tactics you’ll invest in to execute your strategy. Many of these tactics are discussed throughout the rest of this article, so keep reading!
- Budget: Determine how much money you’ll invest to promote your event and where that money will come from. For example, you could bring in sponsors to offset costs.
- Tactical timeline: Create a daily calendar of activities required to implement each of the marketing tactics you’ll invest budget dollars in as part of your marketing plan.
2. Develop Your Event Brand
Your event brand is more than just a logo you put on your event website, tickets, and promotional materials. It’s a promise to consumers. It sets expectations for what ticket buyers will experience at your event. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of strong branding. To that end, spend time working through the key steps of developing your event brand:
- Identify your brand promise.
- Determine the image you want people to associate with your event and brand.
- Define the voice you’ll use in all of your event-related communications from your website to your ads and everything in between. Will your messages be fun or serious? Casual or formal?
- Develop a brand identity for your event which includes your brand name, logo, font, color palette, tagline, and imagery at a minimum.
- Create your tangible event assets and consistently brand them. These include your tickets, ads, promotional materials, merchandise, website, and so on.
3. Invest in Advertising
One of the best ways to promote events is advertising. Make sure your event marketing plan includes traditional offline, online, and free advertising opportunities.
Traditional offline advertising opportunities include radio, television, print (magazines, newspapers, etc.), and outdoor (billboards, etc.). Free advertising opportunities include hanging flyers around town, placing flyers in stores and offices around town for customers to take, and sharing your event on event and activity websites, social media, forums, and local websites.
Online advertising includes placing ads directly on websites where your target audience is likely to spend time as well as leveraging tools like Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, AdRoll, and more to raise awareness for your event and ticket sales. Don’t simply advertise your event through these tools one time though. Most event attendees don’t buy tickets the first time they hear about an event. Instead, leverage the power of retargeting!
With ad retargeting, people who visit your ticket sales page might be shown your ad again at a later time when they’re visiting another site that displays ads from Facebook, Google AdWords, AdRoll, or another network you’ve used to set up ad retargeting. Ticket sales will go up when people hear about your event again and again, so make ad retargeting a priority.
4. Generate Publicity
Publicity (also referred to as public relations or PR) comes in many forms. Traditional public relations activities focus on sending out press releases. This tactic can still work to get your event in front of members of the media who might write about it for their publications. Also, ticket buyers might stumble on your press release online. However, there is much more to PR than press releases!
Your biggest opportunity to generate publicity for your event is to invest time into outreach campaigns. Reach out to radio and TV stations, journalists and other members of the media, online influencers who already have the eyes and ears of your target audience, owners of websites that your target audience visits, your performers or speakers, your sponsors, and anyone else you can think of to tell them about your event. You can do this outreach by email, phone, or even social media.
Ask each person to talk about your event with their social media followers and write about it in their publications, websites, and blogs. This type of word-of-mouth marketing is extremely powerful and can give your event a significant bump in ticket sales.
5. Leverage Content Marketing
There are many types of content marketing, and while most do take time (creating high quality content isn’t quick), they don’t have to cost a lot of money. The key is to produce great content that is relevant to your event and useful, entertaining, or educational to your target audience. Publish that great content on your own blog as well as on other quality websites where your target audience spends time.
Content marketing has a domino effect. It’s unlikely that you’ll see big results overnight, but in time, your efforts will accumulate and turn into ticket sales. Content marketing is particularly useful for annual events and events that have a long ticket sales cycle due to the compounding effect of content publishing and sharing.
To help you get started, here are some content marketing tactics you could include in your event marketing plan:
- Create a blog on your event website and publish quality content to it every day.
- Write guest blog posts and articles and pitch them to other websites where your target audience spends time.
- Create video content and publish it to Facebook, YouTube, and your blog at a minimum.
- Create Facebook live videos.
- Hold webinars.
- Host an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit or AMAfeed.
- Create free content and offer it to your website and social media visitors in exchange for their email addresses (this is a great way to build your list for email marketing as discussed in #7 below).
The list of content marketing tactics goes on and on, so be creative!
6. Use Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing encompasses all of the engagement, sharing, and communication initiatives you invest in to promote your event through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, and so on.
Like content marketing, social media marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require a time investment to increase ticket sales. Here are some tactics you can use to promote your event via social media marketing:
- Publish images that are highly shareable.
- Publish videos, particularly on Facebook where they typically perform well.
- Use videos and livestreaming (such as Facebook Live).
- Include hashtags in your Twitter and Instagram posts.
- Hold contests.
- Share quotes and testimonials.
- Share content from your performers and speakers.
- Ask your followers to share their own content about your event such as photos and videos.
- Engage with people by liking, sharing, and commenting on their content.
- Follow new people every day to expand your reach.
- Host a Twitter chat.
- Mention people directly in your posts and ask questions to generate conversation.
Remember, effective social media marketing can be time-consuming, but the results are worth it. This is an area where it might make sense to hire someone to handle things for you, but make sure you work with a person or agency who knows what they’re doing. One mistake on social media could have far-reaching and long-lasting negative effects for your brand and event.
7. Launch Email Marketing
For professional marketers, the power these days is in the list – your email marketing list. This is the one thing you have complete control over, and in a world dominated by Facebook and Google where the rules could change tomorrow, investing in building your email marketing list is a wise decision.
Offering free content through your blog and social media profiles is a great way to build your email list, but you need to make sure the content you’re offering appeals to the right target audience. You can also include an email subscription form on your website and ticket sales page inviting people to subscribe so they don’t miss any updates about the event.
Once you have an email marketing list, you can start sending interesting content that is relevant to your event and your target audience. Get subscribers excited about the event so they’ll buy tickets. You should do the same with your ticket buyers, because they’re likely to talk about your event to other people and on social media. That word-of-mouth marketing can lead to more ticket sales. You can follow the link to learn about 10 email marketing messages that boost ticket sales.
It’s also important to track shopping cart abandonment on your ticket sales page and email people who started the process to purchase tickets but didn’t finish. Send a series of three email remarketing messages to these people that remind them about the event, what they’re missing if they don’t complete their purchases, and that time’s running out to get tickets.
8. Develop Partnerships and Sponsorships
Don’t forget to ask your sponsors to help promote your event. In fact, you can include promotion requirements in your sponsor agreements. For example, ask sponsors to share your event on their social media profiles, write about it on their blogs, and talk about it in their newsletters. Give them your event logo and other brand identity elements, so it’s easy for them to spread the word to their audiences that they’re sponsoring your event.
Next, think beyond sponsors. What other businesses and organizations in the area where the event will be held might be interested in helping to spread the word? Once you identify some, call or stop in and ask them if they would be willing to hang your signs or offer your flyers at their locations. Make sure you choose businesses and organizations that match your target audience, so the right people hear about your event.
9. Create Marketing Materials and Promotional Items
Always invest in producing marketing materials that match your brand in terms of quality. You’ll need to create flyers, ads, an event website and images to go with it, social media graphics, signs, a program, merchandise, and more. Hire a copywriter, designer, and producers who can give you quality materials at a reasonable price.
It’s a great idea to invest in promotional items that you can give away to increase awareness and excitement for the event. You can also sell many of these items as merchandise at the event. Branded T-shirts, drink cozies, Frisbees, beach balls, travel mugs, and more make great giveaways as well as sellable merchandise.
10. Hold Contests
Contests offer the perfect opportunity to create excitement and raise awareness for your event. You can hold online contests on Facebook or offline contests through local radio stations. There are many options, so choose one that will put your event brand in front of as many people in your target audience as possible.
You can give away free tickets, promotional items, free food and drink vouchers, backstage passes, and more. Ask your performers, speakers, or sponsors to donate prizes, too. The key is to offer prizes that your target audience would be very interested in, but don’t make the prizes so amazing that people who have no interest in buying tickets to your event would enter.
For example, you could give away a big screen TV. Yes, you’d get a lot of interest in the contest, but how many people who enter would actually buy tickets to your event? A lot of people will enter for the prize only. Instead, you only want to attract your target audience with your prize, so your investment has a higher probability of generating ticket sales.
Your Next Steps for Successful Event Marketing
A great marketing plan is only as good as the results it drives. With that in mind, it’s imperative that you rack your results for all of your marketing investments. Track traffic metrics so you know how many people visited your ticket sales page and where they came from. Also, track your ticket sales over time and by zip code.
It’s important to know where people fall out of the buying process, so track how long it takes someone who visits your ticket sales page to return and make a purchase as well as how many people never complete the checkout process. Finally, track your ticket sales per ad or marketing investment and the total marketing cost per ticket. You can follow the link to learn more about event metrics you should track.
Finally, make sure you choose a ticketing provider that offers the integrations and tracking features you need to execute your marketing plan successfully. Choosing the right online ticketing provider can mean the difference between a sell-out event and mediocre (or worse) ticket sales.
If you need help with ticketing or event marketing, call AttendStar at 615-223-1973 or use the contact form to get started.